A big piece in God’s response to the presence of suffering and evil in our world

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A common question over the centuries, for those who believe in the existence of God and that he is the source of all being and is entirely good, has been: Then why does he allow evil and suffering?

The Catholic Church in exploring this question points out that there is no short answer to that question. And that the only answer to how God could allow so much evil in the world, is the whole gospel. For example, one piece that forms an answer to this puzzle, is the maintenance and preservation of human freedom. If as humans, we are only free to choose good, and to love, and not the opposite, then we are not truly free!

So how does God respond to this problem? Again, there are many pieces that make up the answer. But the crucifixion of Jesus makes up the biggest and most central piece in God’s response to the presence of suffering and evil in our world.

God’s love for each of us leads him to take to himself human nature in Jesus, and enter into our experience of evil and suffering in our world. He lets our broken world break his heart. Jesus entered into the worst that this world has to offer, and let it conquer him. He entered into the depths of suffering and evil, and let it overwhelm him; he allowed it to kill him. And then passed from death into life.

He did this for many reasons, but one of those reasons is to tell us that we are not alone and that he is with us in the depths of our pain and suffering. Because he is love.

And we get this, from our own human experience. When someone we know and love is suffering, we are willing to go to any length, to be with them and bear that suffering with them, because we love them. Because God made us like him.

And that’s what he did and does for us. He doesn’t take away our suffering, but enters into it and redeems it for our good.

When we look at Jesus on the cross, we see displayed there all the evils that result from human dysfunction: cruelty, victimisation by deep institutional injustice, betrayal and distancing by one’s closest friends, horrific violence, the limits of physical suffering, excruciating pain, psychological pain – for e.g. the heartbreak of being abandoned and alone; the humiliation of being stripped naked publicly; false accusation; mockery; deep spiritual suffering – the feeling of being abandoned, yes, even by God. The list goes on…

Today, God wants to make present to you again, what he did in Jesus for you in history, almost 2,000 years ago. And he can do that as God, because his sacrifice is taken up into eternity and can be made present to us at every moment in time.

I encourage you to open your heart to him. Bring to him in conversation, the evils and suffering you have experienced in your life or are experiencing right now. And ask him to show you how he was with you in them, and wants to redeem them for your good.

If it is too much to process on your own, ask someone who has walked through similar suffering and experienced Jesus redeeming it for them, to pray with you.

God bless you with his love on this Good Friday!

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